John Wall was again on the ground for the first time in almost two years. DeMarcus Cousins performed for the first time since the 2019 NBA Finals.
The NBA preseason — a truncated 49-game, nine-day dash — opened Friday with a five-game slate, motion returning to NBA arenas for the primary time in precisely 9 months. Coaches debuted with their new teams: Stephen Silas with Houston, Tom Thibodeau with New York, Billy Donovan with Chicago, and Tyronn Lue with the Los Angeles Clippers. Rookies, such as No. 4 decide Patrick Williams of the Bulls, and No. 8 decide Obi Toppin of the Knicks, received their first NBA minutes.
As would be the case in most buildings, at least to start out the season, nearly nobody was at any of those games. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing and case numbers nonetheless rising, the period that began for the NBA with the suspension of last season on March 11 — the evening that Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive — resumed with the league and its teams erring on the perimeters of warning and security.
“It’s totally different, for positive,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated earlier than his team confronted the Clippers inside a really empty Staples Middle.
Nicely, some issues had been different.
Coaches wore masks. Detroit confirmed old movies of precise fan interactions — with the disclaimer that they had been taped beforehand — throughout some timeouts. Bench seating areas had been all spaced out, no person next to 1 one other.
“The ambiance will likely be clearly considerably totally different than what guys are used to in an area,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford stated. “And I believe that is going to be one of many precious elements of taking part in these 4 exhibition games. Similar to within the bubble, we needed to get used to a different-type setting and I believe these 4 games will hopefully permit us to see what the common season goes to be like in these huge arenas additionally.”
So, sure, a lot was different.
Other issues — like Wall’s explosion to the basket — had been just like regular.
Wall’s first basket since December 2018 got here on the primary possession of Houston’s preseason when he received to the rim for a simple rating in his Rockets debut, one which got here after his restoration from heel and Achilles accidents.
The Rockets’ subsequent basket? Wall arrange Cousins for a 3-pointer, the middle’s first basket since Recreation 6 of the 2019 finals with the Warriors, two months earlier than he tore his ACL and missed last season.
Reigning NBA scoring champion James Harden wasn’t taking part in for the Rockets, nonetheless not cleared to be again on the ground with the team that he hasn’t practiced with but and apparently now not needs to be with. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who had been final seen on the ground collectively when the Lakers topped the Miami Warmth within the NBA Finals within the Walt Disney World bubble — lower than two months in the past — were among the many regulars who received the champs’ preseason opener off.
There are seven extra games Saturday.
KNICKS 90, PISTONS 84
At Detroit, R.J. Barrett scored 15 points and Toppin completed with 11 points and 7 rebounds in his debut because the Knicks received their preseason opener.
Julius Randle scored 11, whereas Elfrid Payton and Nerlens Noel every scored 10 for New York.
Svi Mykhailiuk and Saddiq Bey led the Pistons with 14 points apiece. None of Detroit’s 5 starters — all taking part in between 15 and 22 minutes — reached double figures, they usually shot a mixed 8 for 34.
MAGIC 116, HAWKS 112
At Atlanta, Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 11 rebounds and all 5 Orlando starters reached double figures.
Dwayne Bacon had 14 points, Evan Fournier had 13, Aaron Gordon scored 12 and Markelle Fultz added 10 for the Magic, who additionally received 10 off the bench from Michael Carter-Williams.
De’Andre Hunter scored 18 for the Hawks, who received 14 points apiece from John Collins and Danilo Gallinari, 14 rebounds from Clint Capela, and 13 points from Cam Reddish. Trae Younger shot simply 2 for 9 for Atlanta.
ROCKETS 125, BULLS 104
At Chicago, Wall had 13 points and 9 assists in 19 minutes and the Rockets led wire-to-wire.
Bruno Caboclo had 17 points for Houston, which led by as many as 32. Gerald Green and Eric Gordon scored 16 apiece, Cousins had 14 points in quarter-hour and Ben McLemore added 10 for the Rockets — who had a 35-0 edge in points off turnovers till the ultimate moments.
Coby White scored 15 for the Bulls. Lauri Markkanen added 13 for Chicago, Williams had 12 in his NBA debut, Noah Vonleh and Zach LaVine every added 12 and Tomas Satoransky completed with 11.
LAKERS 87, CLIPPERS 81
At Los Angeles, Talen Horton-Tucker scored 19 points and Kyle Kuzma had 18 for the Lakers.
Montrezl Harrell had 13 points and 12 rebounds against his former team and Dennis Schroder added 10 points for the Lakers. Paul George had 10 for the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard managed three in 14 minutes.
Both teams shot precisely 30 for 84 from the sector, and not one of the Clippers’ starters logged even 15 minutes.
TRAILBLAZERS 127, KINGS 102
At Portland, Carmelo Anthony had 21 points in 23 minutes for a Path Blazers team that had to shut its follow facility earlier within the week over coronavirus considerations.
Harry Giles had 18 points and 14 rebounds against his former team. CJ McCollum and Gary Trent Jr. additionally scored 18 apiece for the Blazers, whereas Damian Lillard scored 15 and Derrick Jones Jr. had 15 on 6-of-7 capturing in his Portland debut.
Buddy Hield had 23 points and Harrison Barnes scored 16 for the Kings, who gave up 35 points within the first 9 minutes. De’Aaron Fox scored 10.